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Sustainable Communities and Housing Conference 2009. PLANNING FOR A DIFFERENT FUTURE John O’Connor Chairperson An Bord Pleanála. Time to Reflect. Lessons from past – good and bad Start laying groundwork now for resurgence Opportunities to take advantage Future must be different

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Sustainable communities and housing conference 2009

Sustainable Communities and Housing Conference 2009


John O’Connor


An Bord Pleanála

Time to reflect
Time to Reflect

  • Lessons from past – good and bad

  • Start laying groundwork now for resurgence

  • Opportunities to take advantage

  • Future must be different

  • Planning system must play part in stabilisation and resurgence

Past decade good outcomes
Past Decade: Good Outcomes

  • Legislation improved; national guidance expanded

  • Comprehensive planning framework

  • NSS, RPGs, DPs, LAPs, local framework plans

  • Strategic Development Zones (4)

  • Urban renewal

  • Improved design

Past decade bad outcomes
Past Decade: Bad Outcomes

  • Unsustainable development patterns

  • Excessive featureless sprawl

  • Very unsuitable developments in towns and villages

  • Poor residential environments-noisy, poor natural light, car dominated etc.

  • Neglect of water resources/pollution

  • Damage to urban and rural landscapes

Reasons for bad outcomes
Reasons for Bad Outcomes

  • Bad development plan zoning

  • Bad planning decisions

  • Lack of adherence to development plan policies

  • Bad design, overdevelopment, car dominated, no space, poor residential environment

  • Inadequate account of infrastructure constraints/economics of provision

  • “any development is good development” syndrome

Planning system and property bubble
Planning System and Property Bubble

  • Planning system facilitated huge increase in output, but

  • Quantity over quality – quality of development was patchy

  • Became more developer led

  • Development less coherent

  • Less economic use of physical and social infrastructure and natural resources

  • Tax incentives not tied into planning system

Developer led planning
Developer Led Planning

  • By law, development should be led by democratic plans

  • Developers and vested interests had undue influence on plan making

  • Developers had little regard to statutory development plans in buying land and designing schemes

  • Banks ignored planning parameters in lending

  • L.A.s failed to vindicate own DPs

  • ABP has had to refuse or amend many poor quality developments on appeal

  • Land values subverted - good business/community uses displaced

Development pressures led to systemic failures
Development Pressures led to Systemic Failures

  • Councillors and management succumbed

  • Every place should be developed!

  • Local authorities failed to send right signals to developers

  • Conflicts between management and planners within local authorities

  • Minimal involvement in planning decisions by L.A. architects

  • ABP decisions frequently not heeded.

A different future
A Different Future

  • A ‘plan-led’ system: more efficient, equitable and publicly acceptable than ‘developer-led’ system

  • Development plans must be externally and internally consistent: zoning should reflect policy objectives, avoid exceptions

  • Plan for sustainable location – transport, energy, water, flooding (revisit existing zonings).

  • Properly adopted LAPs rather than ‘frameworks’ or developer ‘master plans’

A different future contd
A Different Future contd.

  • Pre-planning consultations and planning decisions should transparently vindicate D. P. objectives, policies

  • Need to implement Sustainable Communities Guidelines 2008

  • Impending legislation will underpin

  • NAMA and mooted property tax present opportunities

National asset management agency
National Asset Management Agency

  • NAMA land must maximise benefits to public

  • NAMA must work with planning system: DOEHLG and L.A.s roles

  • Opportunity for L.A.s to take hand in land markets

  • Assemble land banks – good sites for infrastructure, education, enterprise, amenities

  • Help maintain critical level of construction activity

  • Must be more than a financial exercise

  • Opportunity to begin tackling long standing issue of value of development land

Mooted property tax
Mooted Property Tax

  • Absence of proper property taxes contributed to bubble

  • Militates against sustainable efficient planning

  • Supplementary Budget – consideration of new property tax

  • Land value tax should be an element

  • LVT would drive sustainable development , promote logical behaviour and stabilise market

  • Reduce pressure to grant planning permissions to generate revenues

  • LVT would lead to review of development levies

Revival resurgence

  • Pro-active rather than reactive planning

  • Constructive plan-based engagement with developers

  • Local authorities should actively promote good developments (even small scale) in right locations centres, brownfield, in-fill, serviced land

  • Facilitate services for such developments

  • Local authority architects should assist in suitable design

  • Concessions on development levies to incentivise developments

  • Focus major expansion on SDZs

Revival resurgence continued
Revival/Resurgence continued

  • Use CPO powers for sites (ABP will support)

  • Joint ventures to meet identified development needs

  • Tackle dereliction – strong legislation; small scale interventions may appeal now

  • Provide serviced sites at suitable locations in towns and villages to allow ‘self-design’ and to combat excessive one-off housing in countryside

  • Revised planning permissions could be fast-tracked by P.A.s and ABP

  • Compliance conditions could be reduced


  • Planning has part to play in sustaining/ reviving construction/development

  • Planning must work to keep down costs/improve the economics and sustainability of development

  • Planners and architects in L.A.s working more closely with developers within planning framework; Department and ABP have supporting role.

  • NAMA and new property tax present opportunities for better planning longer term